Similarities and differences between coparenting and parental gatekeeping: implications for father involvement research

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Abstract

A family systems perspective highlights the multiple interdependent relationships that may influence fathers’ parenting and, in turn, child outcomes. Notably, coparenting, or how parents collaborate in raising the child, has been linked to father involvement. More recently, parental gatekeeping, or one parent’s efforts to manage the other parent’s interactions with the child, has been introduced as part of the coparenting relationship. Researchers have reported associations between maternal gatekeeping, including mothers’ encouragement (i.e. gate opening) and discouragement (i.e. gate closing), and fathers’ parenting. However, multidimensional models of coparenting do not explicitly identify a parental gatekeeping component. Additionally, parental gatekeeping and coparenting lines of research have been pursued relatively independently. This raises questions about how parental gatekeeping and other dimensions of the coparenting relationship may be similarly and differentially linked to fathers’ parenting. To clarify the nature of coparenting and parental gatekeeping, this article provides an overview of foundational research. Similarities and differences in the consequences of coparenting (i.e. support and undermining) and parental gatekeeping (i.e. gate opening and gate closing) for fathers’ parenting are examined. Finally, I explore how a parental gatekeeping process may operate as a feedback loop within a given family system. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1403-1427
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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